26 April 2016

Not a Chess Historian

A few days ago Giga Alert ('the most powerful web alerting service available'; see 'My Scrapbook' on the right sidebar, where I still use its old name 'Google Alerts'; see also Look What Google Dragged In, March 2008) flagged a reference to my name in List of chess historians | Felicity Smoak. My first reaction was: 'Really? Am I on a list of chess historians somewhere?'

My excitement was short lived. First, I'm only on the list as a footnote, for a page I wrote about The Origin of Modern Chess, which documents the presence on the list of Thomas Hyde ('an English orientalist'). Second, the list is just a copy of Wikipedia's List of chess historians, which I already saw long ago.

That list being the basis of my blog post for today, what can I write about? The Wikipedia 'Talk' page (often a good lead for background info on a topic) says,

There is no mention at all of chess in the article on Thomas Hyde currently linked from this list. Perhaps the chess historian is another Thomas Hyde, or else the existing Thomas Hyde article needs some expansion. (April 2006)

My 'Origin of Modern Chess' page says,

The first great chess historian was Thomas Hyde (1636-1703), Oxford professor of Hebrew and Arabic. He published histories in 1689 and 1694 which traced the origin of chess from India to Persia to Arabia.

Someone matched the dates on Wikipedia's Thomas Hyde page with my paragraph and determined that it was the same person. Glad to have helped and glad to have learned something about Thomas Hyde, but that still doesn't make much of a blog post. How about looking at some of the names on the list of historians -- some of which I recognize, but many I don't -- to find out more about them?

Good idea, but of the 50 names, which ones? Using the random number generator at Random.org, I was assigned no.16 José Antonio Garzón, a name I didn't recognize. A search on Garzón turns up José Antonio Garzón Roger, which starts,

The clear evidence of the first draughts game thanks to: Mr. José Antonio Garzón Roger • In 2005, Garzón wrote an impressive history book about the new chess and the first draughts game in Valencia. The English edition of this book was, since March 2006 eagerly sold. The book "The Return of Francesch Vicent", describes how masterfully developed the first draughts game and the new powerful dama (Queen) in chess. The works of chess master Francesch Vicent confirm that.

That page is on the site Damasweb.com, managed by 'Draughts & Chess Historian: Dr. Govert Westerveld', who is also on the Wikipedia list.

That was a good exercise! I finally have a blog post and I'll continue it another time.

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